Henrik Ibsen Comes Alive In Mumbai

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Henrik Ibsen Comes Alive In Mumbai

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is as relevant today as 140 years ago. "When A Doll House was staged in 1879 it generated lot of controversy. Europe's male-dominated society was still unable to comprehend a woman walking away from her husband and children, but Nora does. Ibsen's women are in a search of their own voice, just as women in India are trying to assert their own voice today," says Indian theatre director Ila Arun. She counts Ibsen among the most relevant playwrights of all time.

"New generations should get the chance to meet Henrik Ibsen'' said Ann Ollestad, Norwegian Consul General in Mumbai.

On 25 November, Royal Norwegian Consulate General (Mumbai) is bringing together three experts on stage including author Ivo de Figueiredo, translator Astri Ghosh and theatre director Ila Arun to offer the Indian audience insight into the life, work and time of Henrik Ibsen, the 19th century Norwegian, one of the world´s most cherished playwright and theatre director.

Henrik Ibsen is regarded as founder of modernism theatre in Europe. He was a cultural critique of his times and faced censorship for touching upon topics, considered taboos, like incest, suicide, prostitution, concubines and more. "The challenges that India faces today on gender, on human relationships and family ties were all spoken of by Ibsen several generations ago" says Ila Arun.

Ila Arun has staged several Hindi adaptation of Ibsen's plays including "The Lady from the Sea" as "Mareechhika", "Peer Gynt" as "Peer Ghani", Ghosts as "Peechha Karti Parchayyaiyan" to name a few. Adapting Ibsen for Indian audiences was full of challenges. "The most difficult aspect is how to make the play your own without disturbing the soul of the play or the message the playwright wants to give", Ila explains.

Ila was honoured with the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit in Nov. 2018 as a recognition of her efforts to strengthen Indo-Norwegian cultural ties through Ibsen Festivals in Mumbai.

Henrik Ibsen and Rabindranath Tagore were contemporaries who thought alike on various social problems including emancipation of women. There is striking similarity in Ibsen's "A Doll's House' and Tagore's ''Streepatra'' as both depicts powerful women fighting for self-identity and individuality in a patriarchal society. Ibsen conveys his message through Nora and Tagore talks about Bengali women through Mrinal.

Like Shakespeare, Ibsen has inspired theatre and film directors across the globe including India. "A Doll`s House" was the first Ibsen play staged in India by a Kolkata-based theatre company, New Theatre Commune, in 1945-1946. In 1990, Satyajit Ray made a screen adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play 'Enemy of the People' called ''Ganashatru'' in Bengali. The film depicted a hypocritical middle class, ready to trade their idealism for economic prosperity.

The event will also serve as a launch for Ivo de Figueiredo's praised biography: Henrik Ibsen: The Man and the Mask which is considered the most researched biography on Henrik Ibsen.

Goa-based Astri Ghosh will speak of her work with Ibsen and present her translations of Ibsen's works into Hindi. Over the years, Henrik Ibsen's dramas have been translated in various languages including Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Persian, Russian and Spanish.

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